The newly announced Federal Government TelePresence network, priced at $13.8 million, creates a 'virtual' meeting space between Government buildings spread across the nation.
It is the largest Government deployment of Cisco TelePresence products in the world to date.
The Federal department of Finance will deploy 20 TelePresence units in total - with 13 three-screen CTS 3000s (list price of US$299,000) and seven single-screen CTS 1000s (list price of US$59,000) linking seven Commonwealth offices, Prime Minister and Cabinet Offices and the offices of Premiers and Chief Minister agencies in every state and territory.
The network will be used for inter-jurisdictional meetings such as the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and Ministerial Council meetings.
On the assumption that an average business class domestic flight costs around $700 (with flexible business class fares in Australia ranging from $300 to up to $2000), the system would need to enable ministers to defer travel on some 20,000 occasions before the Finance Department could calculate a direct financial benefit from the system.
The system also uses considerable bandwidth - with an average throughput of 10-15mbps.
Any reduction in travel can, of course, create calculable environmental benefits in terms of reducing carbon reductions.
The Federal Government also says that its investment can be justified in terms of improved productivity.
"The Federal government is displaying foresight and leadership by implementing this system, as it sets an example in terms of enhanced collaboration, increased productivity and efficiency and a decreased impact on the environment," said Les Williamson, vice president of Cisco in Australia and New Zealand.